New research reveals two primary drivers behind employees choosing to stay in their current position or leave to seek opportunities elsewhere: practical elements of a job (such as pay, commute, and paid time off) and personal experiences (for example, interpersonal relationships and engagement)

Which is more important? The study from Randstad US suggests that of the two, personal experiences may carry the most weight: 58% of workers say that they'd stay at jobs with lower salaries if that meant working for a great boss.

"Today's workers have high expectations—and the tight talent market suggests employers should be listening closely," said Jim Link, chief human resources officer of Randstad North America, in a news release.

"While salary and PTO will always be factors in attraction, engagement, and retention, the intangible benefits and day-to-day experiences at work have risen in importance.

"If the full spectrum of values—emotional, financial, and lifestyle—aren't being met, workers will easily find opportunities elsewhere."

Key Findings

1. Employees leave for practical reasons—and tangible benefits—that affect work-life balance.

  • Nearly half (46%) are considering leaving their jobs within the next year to join the gig economy.
  • Sixty-four percent would consider leaving for opportunities in better locations.
  • Most (82%) expect pay raises every year to stay with their current employers.
  • Sixty-three percent wouldn't consider job opportunities that offer fewer than 15 paid vacation days annually.
  • Over a third (36%) are considering leaving their current jobs because they don't have the ability to work remotely.

However, workers reported leaving for reasons tied to negative personal experiences, often related to poor workplace culture—something that could be improved with better leadership.

2. Relationships and respect are what cause employees to walk out the door.

  • More than half (59%) feel their companies view profits or revenues as more important than how people are treated.
  • Sixty percent have left jobs or are considering leaving because they don't like their direct supervisors.
  • Fifty-three percent have left jobs or considered leaving because they believe their employers don't recruit or retain high-performing individuals.

3. Workers aren't happy unless they're reaching their fullest career potential.

  • Fifty-eight percent of workers agree their companies don't currently have enough growth opportunities for them to stay longer term.
  • Sixty-nine percent would be more satisfied if their employers better used their skills and abilities.
    Workers reported leaving for reasons tied to negative personal experiences, often related to poor workplace culture.
  • More than half (57%) say they need to leave their current companies to take their careers to the next level.

4. Environment and reputation can be deal-breakers.

  • Thirty-eight percent of workers want to leave their jobs due to a toxic work culture or one where they don't feel they fit in.
  • An even larger group (58%) have left jobs or are considering leaving because of negative office politics.
  • Forty-six percent say their teams/departments are understaffed, so they are seeking or considering employment elsewhere.
  • Most (86%) would not apply for or continue to work for a company that has a bad reputation with former employees or the public, and 65% would likely leave if their employers were being negatively portrayed in the news or on social media because of a crisis or negative business practices.

5. When employees stay, it's not necessarily because they love their jobs.

  • Half (54%) of employees (men and women) feel pressure to stay at jobs they don't enjoy because they are the primary financial providers for their families.
  • Seventy-one percent admit they stay in their current jobs because it's easier than starting something new.
  • Seventy-eight percent of workers say their benefits packages are as important as their salaries in keeping them at their current employers.
  • Fifty-six percent don't seek out or consider other job opportunities because they'd have to start with less paid time off.

    About the survey: Research findings are based on an OmniPulse survey fielded by national polling firm Research Now on behalf of Randstad US. The survey was fielded from July 9–13, 2018. It included 763 respondents over the age of 18 and a nationally representative sample balanced on age, gender, and region.